DATELINE: It Could be Worse
DATELINE: Waiting for Results Again
Shaft #9 was originally dug in 1865 as a means to divert flood tunnel booby traps. It is a big job requiring the big man Billy. This lost shaft was given up when the group only decades after finding the Money Pit ran out of money. So, we have additional and new background on Curse of Oak Island.
It’s hard to believe they only now mention “The Highlands,” after five years of episodes.
This episode provides contrasts with the smaller discoveries of Gary Drayton, teamed with Peter Fornetti and Alex Lagina. Fornetti is no longer the callow teenager of five years ago and now provides muscle for Gary Drayton’s searches. He is working on piles of dirt that render iron work from Spanish galleons that may have been laden with the treasure of the Aztecs.
Though Marty Lagina once disparaged the notion of Montezuma’s gold bags, he is enthralled when journalist D’Arcy O’Connor tells him the same thing. He adds that the Spanish lost about 200 ships going back and forth with gold spoils. Some may have gone sideways to Oak Island to hide their stolen loot.
Gary Drayton, meanwhile, has found a cribbing spike, greatly corroded. He and Alex take it to Carmen Legge, the latest expert to become a big man on the side of the search. He dates the find as 1600s.
The other big project is setting off 18,000 dynamite charges to map the underground, down to levels of 300 feet. The tease is that results won’t show for several weeks.
Interestingly, Marty Lagina was mostly absent from this episode, showing up on Skype mostly, which hints that he is busy working on the sister series of Civil War Gold.The team of Gary and Alex likely will show up on that one too.
DATELINE: It Only Feels Like a Rerun
Why do they keep drilling down when it is hit or miss? The Curse of Oak Island never really answers their alleged waste of money. They finally decide to do seismic testing.
The War Room gang entertain another historian, but this one is labeled a real expert by Marty Lagina: he is Chip Reid from Anapolis. He tells them the French likely built “water batteries” on Oak Island, which explains what the structures found in Smith Cove.
Reid, author and highly respected, tells them that there were several treasures dropped off over hundreds of years because secret Tempar knowledge shared the hiding spots for future protected items.
They also have another circus ring going on with GPR seismic imaging over at the original digger and discoverer, Daniel McGinnis whose ruins of a house are a national treasure. It now appears he had a secret cellar under the foundation.
They also refer to Dan Henskee as the new dean of the past and his information leads them to another spot that could direct the search to the Money Pit.
Oddly enough Henskee does not appear in the show. It is troubling about his health or condition.
As usual too, it is Gary Drayton who finds more stuff: this time he locates a chisel on the McGinnis land that indicates the original teenager who found the Money Pit was mining on his land back in 1800.
This was a holding pattern episode to set us up for something bigger and more shocking.
DATELINE: Muddy Waters
Magical 13 Branches?
For the seventh season, we feel more and more that it is just like many of the previous seasons—except results now are becoming more compelling.
Digging in the swamp has now proven a wooden shaft or structure that is man-made. By whom? That remains the constant conundrum.
Several other factors give us our déjà vu moment, again and again. This time they are talking about a bladder coffer dam to hold back sediment. It seems like the fourth season again.
Lagina Nephew Peter Fornetti remains omnipresent and omni-silent. But Alex Lagina is now speaking more forcefully, like a true star of the show.
If there is a striking element here, it is the rise of the second bananas over seven seasons: these individuals now sit regular at the big discussion table. They are integral to the search: Paul Troutman, Laird Nivens, Doug Crowell, Gary Drayton, and now the overweight big man of the bulldozers, Billy. Each has earned a following among fans.
However, the bobby dazzler himself, Gary Drayton continues to be the mover and shaker of all discoveries. This week is not unusual. He locates on the west side of the island some kind of brooch: a leaf on coils of rope. He contends it is quite old and was a rich soldier’s bauble, perhaps a uniform pin.
Once cleaned up, it proves to have 13 branches on the fern: but is more like the tree on George Washington’s flag. It is a Masonic and Templar symbol. It may have been the symbol of the American Revolution that wanted to bring Nova Scotia into the original colonies of the United States.
Carbon dating is more frequently turning up dates in the 1700s, often parallel to the American Revolution. It hints that Oak Island may have more to do with the Founding Fathers like Ben Franklin and ties to the French allies.
DATELINE: Progress on Oak Island
Something is bogged down on Oak Island, under the swamp that is. We do have to admit this season of Curse of Oak Island is the best one so far.
Marty Lagina seems finally to be convinced that there is something in the swamp, though he is one to admit that the rocky side of Oak Island really has never been explored for tunnels. That remains the truly amazing detail.
Once again, academic experts are the real stars of this show. Dr. Ian Spooner provides a perspective of a scientist looking at the swamp—and only when he tells them it is man-made do they feel some vindication. The real question is why it took seven years to confirm a theory that the Nolan-Blankenship diggers postulated decades ago.
Heartthrob Alex Lagina is given a larger role, and lets his younger nephew Peter Fornetti tag along with historian Charles Barkhouse, as they visit Dr. Christa Brosseau at St. Mary’s College in Halifax.
She seems non-plussed at meeting yet another group of visitors from Oak Island. She tells them what Gary Drayton has claimed all along: those swages found were tools that go back to the original searchers, at the latest.
Why haven’t they invited her to the Island? Women are always an afterthought on Oak Island.
The multiple searches also pay off location of remnants of dynamite that was used around 1900 to try to shut off the flood mechanisms that have ruined many a search. Whenever these primitive technological devices were created on Oak Island, they garner respect for those under-educated pirates or knights who buried the whole shebang.
Once again, folkhero Gary Drayton takes on the unenviable task of diving into the swamp to locate iron in a perimeter area that is now called the all-seeing “Eye of the Swamp.”
Don’t let your pineal gland go to your head, but this indicates that there may be a gateway to treasure awaiting us.
DATELINE: Digging and Drilling Continues, Season 7
Not a Sledge!
If boring down again seems familiar, this time it is in the notorious swamp where no boredom is deep. If you seem to have a sense of deju vuall over again, we can understand it. Between the recaps that dominate the series almost three or four times per show, we are now re-enacting the re-enactments.
That’s not to say the Curse of Oak Island is not compelling! Though Marty Lagina seems to use the same expressions repeatedly, they are applied to different situations. He just makes it feel like we are re-living a previous episode.
They are now in the swamp, drilling down, to use a phrase for those irksome Matty Blake specials on the topic. What first hits them is the expensive floating drill machine, boring into some unknown hard substance,
The core samples are all clay, of varying hardness and dryness. However, that is not their goal: they want to find the wood of a Spanish galleon. Well, it does nto seem to be cooperating.
They move the floating feast of drill bores to another spot and again strike a waterproofing capstone. A rock formation appears to be there to keep out the water. Once again they may have struck pay-dirt without knowing why.
In the meantime, on a second Western front, ground penetrating radar finds a tunnel system on a part of the island that has not been explored.
You mean there are areas that have not been dug up. It is a revelation to viewers after six full seasons. Yes, there are tunnels where you don’t expect them, and a fresh faced geologist tells them their swamp is not prehistoric, but only in the range of 300 years old.
Fortunately Gary Drayton is still on the job and he locates what looks like primitive sledgehammer heads: two of them in close proximity. He claims they are quite old. His assessments are now regarded with less skepticism than in previous years. We have noticed the absence of Jack Begley, and the unannounced appearance of Peter Frenetti, another nephew this week.
Bring on a new fresh face: Carmen Legge, the local blacksmith historian who has delivered all the good news for two years. Now he is on set in the War Room: he has made the cut.
And, now he tells them their sledgehammer heads are actually tunnel sharpening devices that date back to the 1400s.
Who needs a Spanish galleon when the ground is like a mole’s delight: filled with tunnels everywhere.
DATELINE: Gary Drayton Finds Another Gem!
Two Islands Become Merged!
Curses aside, is it the year we finally hit paydirt? You need two hours for the first episode of the new season.
The seventh season premiere of The Curse of Oak Island is highly anticipated if only because of those promos that are promising the treasure steps to nirvana.
You could say everything is ship-shaped to begin the new year. There is a 200’ long ship apparently buried in the swamp. And, even more interesting, there is a road or wharf made of stone next to it.
The swamp now appears to be man-made and artificial for sure.
Yet, it is the team of Gary Drayton and Alex Lagina who find more beachfront artifacts. They had already been a team and good workers on the other gold digger show about the lost Civil War treasure.
Now they go out to a rocky locale to discover a spike of sorts. Once again, Drayton is the key and his uncanny insights date the item as quite old, despite not having any corrosion. He also finds a silver button, clearly belonging to someone of wealth or importance.
This stuff must go to more specific experts. A conservator is brought in to clean up the button
And, the old spike is brought to an expert who looks it over and sees it is used for stone carving, back in the 1300s. Of course, a tool made then could be used for hundreds of years. Blacksmithing expert in Nova Scotia thinks it was a stonemason tool. We are talking Templar and freemason connections. Again.
Had they found the actual tool that carved the infamous 90’ stone that led to the original search for the treasure?
DATELINE: What You Missed Over Six Seasons
Old Friends Meet at Nursing Home!
The final “special” Oak Island pre-season show may be the most intriguing and interesting of all. This one billed itself as 25 moments you have not seen because they are the clips that never made it into the series.
That makes it fresh and revealing. We suspect that it may be the Gary Drayton show, as he was the one who found so much and knew instantly what it meant. His vast knowledge of archeology transcends scholars easily. So, we were prepared to find 25 moments of Drayton.
Alas, the episode quickly devolves into the antics of the Lagina Brothers, to remind us that the second bananas are not your stars.
Some of the incidents relate to tragedy, such as interviews with the son of a rescue worker who witnessed the deaths of the Restall father and son. There is also a visit with one of Dan Blankenship’s coworkers, and all of these were deemed not worthy of viewership during the series. So, we are happy that they are now included in the official record.
You may well wonder who decided not to show the moment they learned one of the bits of human bone 160 feet below ground belonged to a woman. You may also find exasperating when they find evidence that someone was chained to a post in one of the tunnels.
Bad news and unpleasant truths are avoided by series, and not to show the two black descendants of Samuel Ball’s visit to the island is puzzling.
In a lighter vein, there is the omission of Dan Blankenship’s 95thbirthday party! It was something that should be assembled in a biographical tribute to the man they praise not enough.
It certainly ended these pre-season specials on the highest note.
DATELINE: Hook, Line & Sunk
One Born Every Minute?
If Alex Lagina had any effect on a first-season disaster for Curse of Civil War Gold, he turned it into something far more compelling. As with conspiracy theories and history, you can become more outrageous along the way.
However, he bailed out when his father Marty Lagina blew up over the lack of careful preparation. After firing the diver who found gold, and failed to properly mark its location, Lagina personally escorted John Chatterton to the show.
The dive expert indicated something was amiss. And, a second dive at the last moment revealed that a conspiracy may exist within a conspiracy. The lack of professionalism and giddy accusations may have backfired on Dykstra and his theory.
Yup, the Masons may have salted the mine with gold bricks.
It seems unbelievable that Marty Lagina will sink more of his cash into producing another season, but ratings may be the real gold.
We didn’t see a great deal of Jesse James, as promised, but the inclusion of John Wilkes Booth was inspired stuff from the Lagina investors. They have turned the dross into gold, no matter what Kevin Dykstra ever finds.
The transformation of a small-time rich banker named Charles Hackley into a big-wig with connections to Edwin Stanton also has proven to be magical when it comes to plots to kill Abe Lincoln who might have objected to the Masons taking the Confederate treasury.
It seems these maligned people and groups may have bitten back at Kevin Dykstra. Tune in next year to find out who’s behind the fraud.
DATELINE: Moneybags Lagina Wins!
In Hackley Library Under His Images!
Somebody up there at History Channel knows how to salt a mine. Tenderfoot types are buying the bullion by the cartload.
The curse of Civil War Gold is the albatross of the Curse of Civil War Gold. It’s too late to change the show’s title, and they’re stuck with it. Kevin Dykstra, the originator, seems more and more bewildered that his pitch has been hijacked and evolves each week into something far afield from his notion of a gold hunt series.
Take the latest episode as the arc of the season nears its end. “Grave Expectations,” throws another ironic title at him. You know he’s out of his element.
Now he leads a team with co-leader Alex Lagina who joins him on the big moments, like meeting a great-grandson of a Michigan man who has gold purportedly from the Jeff Davis arrest. And when the team meets with Marty Moneybags Lagina, the old man had demanded to hold gold in his hand—it is Alex sitting next to him.
As if to add irony to the biting satire of meeting a man who confirms the Confederate Treasury was stolen by Union soldiers and hometown businessmen, the meeting takes place in the Hackley Public Library.
You guessed it: sitting under photos of Charles Hackley, the man Kevin Dykstra maligns at every stage of the series, they meet with a descendant of the conspiracy.
Well, at least, they confirmed this time that the mummy of John Wilkes Booth was a carnival attraction for years—hardly the proper fate of a man in on a plot to steal hundreds of millions of dollars in gold.
And, once again, an attempt to find the escape tunnel Booth used at Garrett’s Farm, is futile and pointless, as they have no permission to excavate to prove anything. An aside throws out the info that unspecified “authorities” have refused to allow Booth’s remains to be exhumed and tested with DNA.
The series has taken on a new life—and will likely be back on History next year.
DATELINE: Color Him Unreal?
Old wine is seldom put in new bottles. Civil War Gold missed the key point that the mummy of John Wilkes Booth toured in carnivals until the 1930s. Now, maybe there’s gold in his fillings.
If you happen to be the History Channel and their latest attempt to find plots, you start to delve into Wilkes Booth escape myths, conspiracies, to package them into alluring entertainments.
The idea that John Wilkes Booth died in Enid, Oklahoma, in 1903 is not new. Of course, the Curse of Civil War Gold wants to tie in the Masons; Booth was no Mason, and he likely would have not been appreciated by men like Hackley. Booth was more likely assisted by Col. John Mosby and his Rangers to escape the dragnet of Union soldiers at the Garrett Barn in 1865.
However, looking for escape hatches is not a bad idea, and it does lend some intrigue to the series that has gone far afield from its original mission: finding the stolen Confederate treasury that was in partial possession of Jeff Davis.
As a sidebar, more tunnels are being researched by the second-tier team in Muskegon. In fact, there are apparently more tunnels in that Michigan city than in the New York subway system. And, every tunnel between buildings was meant to move gold bullion secretly.
No other possibility is ever considered.
The Curse remains unexplained, but the Civil War Gold never helped John Wilkes Booth or Edwin Stanton. That fact is indisputable, no matter what you hear on the series that has been hijacked by Alex Lagina who coyly never admits he may be a Mason too.
Other, more peculiar theories on Booth may yet be in offing. They are there for the picking, if the show wants to veer a few more degrees off-course.
In many ways, the show is about as off-color as the fake colorized photographs of Stanton.
DATELINE: More than Expected?
Edwin Nutcake Stanton.
You could say that Alex Lagina, son of producer Marty Lagina, is picking his moments to stay clear of the series—and when to jump in to take over.
We still haven’t figured out what the Curse of Civil War Gold may be: perhaps the show should have been configured as the Conspiracy of Civil War Gold.
In more idiocy, Kevin Dykstra seems determined to go out onto Lake Michigan when heavy waves could capsize his boat and bring physical harm to members of his search team.
You may have noticed that Alex Lagina stayed clear of this aspect of the search. He did come in toward the end, when again the Masons were made to be culprits in the Hackley scheme to steal the Confederate treasury.
Hackley now has been tied to the freemasons, and his propensity to build tunnels between his various building projects looks suspicious. Now there is an attempt to show Charles Hackley wanted to make Michigan a rival to New York as a financial capital with capitol.
As the richest man in Muskegon, Michigan, Hackley built hospitals and schools with his money (wherever it came from) and that philanthropy continues to be tainted with each show in the series.
After this night, Hackley is tied in to Edwin ‘Nutcake’ Stanton, the notorious Secretary of War under Lincoln whose mad techniques led him to suicide and/or murder. On top of this, he’s accused of being a freemason, worse than anything else. It’s Alex Lagina who brings in another “author” and investigative journalist to liven up the stolen gold tale with assassination plots.
If this seems to be turning from a molehill of gold into a conspiracy of historical proportions, you may wonder how far afield can the History Channel take us.
Stay tuned because the plot just thickened.
DATELINE: Another Tangential Search
When Kevin Dykstra notes how glad he is to be returning to Georgia for this fifth episode of Curse of Civil War Gold, there is a strong sense that his nose grew about five inches.
We didn’t believe him. Again.
Dykstra now comes up with a third brother (Darren) also a diver and leaves him to clean up the lake-bottom while the other brothers go south. It’s beginning to look like the weak link in the show is Dykstra himself—and Alex Lagina cannot save the day.
Gary Drayton once again, in a throwaway role, steals the show, finding horseshoes, silver rings, and pieces of metal off a Confederate uniform. His sharp wit and insights blow the hosts out of the creek in which they are digging.
The show has two angles that now splits the message by suggesting gold is in multiple locations—and the Lake Michigan search may be only one minor aspect.
So, in this episode they shoot the horse that was leading the charge.
This time he has information from a descendant of a plantation owner. He insists she is “legit” in her information, which is paltry. We also wondered why she is telling him anything at all. These gold seeping out of creeks after rainstorms according to her great aunt.
It also appears that another expert is a former mayor and novelist (that’s a fiction writer) who insists he has insider info too. It seems everyone was an ex-Reb robber—and there was gold being taken by wagons out of the Confederate treasury in buckets.
If you want to have a less respectful opinion of these gold hunters, they drive from Michigan to Georgia. There they meet up with Alex Lagina (now described as the “investor’s son”—something for his resume) and Gary Drayton.
At least, the best part of the show has returned for this episode. They have permission to dig on 300 acres where gold may be hidden, though the other 700 acres are off-limits.
We are not sure how they can remove Dykstra without a revamping and re-imagining of the entire show concept. The man who brought the idea to Marty Lagina may be all wrong to bring the idea to fruition.
DATELINE: Follow the Red Brick Wall!
“A Void at All Costs”? That’s what the episode is titled.
Yikes, when the show names its own poison, you have to wonder how serious it is when it comes to playing around with truth and history. Of the trio of gold hunt shows on History, this one is the lamest. Irony is lost here, not gold.
In a continuing effort to malign people who are dead, History Channel gives us more of the same. Collapsed tunnels from the late 19th century connects the two houses of banker partners who lived across the road from each other. How nefarious is that?
More troubling is the connection between a man who captured Jefferson Davis, Confederate president, and the treasury of the South—to Charles Hackley, the banker who hired the Union officer’s son.
Modestly poor men suddenly open banks. It does raise an eyebrow.
As far as permits go to salvage Lake Michigan, we again have been misled. The process only leads to a federal appeal—and a more deliberate delay. Clearly the Michigan connection is a dead end for now—and the series must move to other areas, literally.
The suppositions are built on sand, or brick walls that front air pockets. Follow the red brick wall. The tease of Wilkes Booth and Jesse James being involved in the story has dried up. They cannot break through the walls because it could bring down the house, which would put them over-budget.
There’s enough dubious dullness that Alex Lagina is not on Oak Island, but back at his father’s business. He gave them any excuse to flee the Civil War hoax.
But, we are connecting dots not meant to lead anywhere. Maybe next week, Gary Drayton will show up and find a coin. Going nowhere is a theme on this show, and they are off on another tangent next week. We still don’t know what the curse is this show’s title refers to.
DATELINE: Curses Again & Again!
Suspicious Hackley House!
Curse of Civil War Gold has become an off-shoot of Curse of Oak Island. It’s not even a spin-off, just a continuation like the other show History has developed, Digging Deeper on Oak Island. The formula of two middle-aged brothers on a quest is a gold mine.
If you have a hit show, you might as well milk it to high heaven. Kevin Dykstra may know this more than any of us. Whatever hostility he might have harbored to having his gold hunt show hijacked by Marty Lagina, has given way to obsequious sucking up.
This second episode had Dykstra asking people in his crew to step aside to let Alex Lagina look at the sonar findings under Lake Michigan. Yup, the bread is now buttered up.
We cannot fault Alex who is who he is: the youngest one on the series, and clearly the star with drawing power. So far, Gary Drayton has not made his appearance to bolster the Civil War Gold series.
A couple of thrusts dominated the second episode: there was the return to the lake, looking for a sunken box car that reportedly was witnessed by a nameless death bed lighthouse keeper. Okay.
The other angle was the continued character assassination of Charles Hackley, a banker and noted Victorian citizen of Michigan who is accused of evil and greedy wrong-doing.
This time the gang wants to prove he had a tunnel from his house to the bank to the railroad station. As they conclude, it was for the worst possible motive.
Who knows? These guys act as though they do.
The show’s high-point for us was when Alex insisted he must return to Oak Island because they are short-handed in Nova Scotia. This is after we witnessed 500 workers and heavy machine operators all season. Daddy Marty’s payroll is bursting at the seams.
The producer decision to abandon the first season approach for a sequel to Oak Island is not to be disparaged. It seems to be working out.